I have met Newt Gingrich several times over the years. We first met when he was a "young turk" in the U.S. House trying to keep the Democrat leadership on its toes by calling for investigations, starting the practice of exploiting C-SPAN for political gain, and other "guerilla tactics" that have become common in politics today. I most recently met him in 2012 during a candidate's forum that I was covering for my show and other media. In every instance I have talked to him I have been impressed by the breadth and depth of his knowledge. With his PhD in history, I have no doubt he has forgotten more about politics and history than most have ever known. However, in spite many favorable encounters, I have never seen him as "presidential timber" and I wonder what value he brings to politics today.
Before he became Speaker of the House, Gingrich seemed more like a highly intelligent "frat kid" who was great at mischief and mayhem, but never impressed me as one who could seriously lead. As Speaker of the House, he was famous for his disorganization and his tendency to pontificate when action was needed. As a presidential candidate, you got the sense he never really believed he could win, except for that week and a half he became "anti-Romney." Rather, you got the sense that he had bookselling as a primary objective, with many titles under his name, and he certainly got plenty of free publicity in running. However, people who worked with Gingrich generally do not believe he has the practical leadership skills to govern. The rank and file among conservatives believe that he is the poster child of "big government conservatism." This group sees him as a man who "hates big government," unless it is part of his larger agenda. You get the impression that, in Gingrich's view, the only problem in government today is that he is not in it. There now appears to be a group that wants to put him back in the seat of power and it is not in the White House.
Recently I received information from "a newly formed political action committee" called "Draft Newt PAC," which "is launching a campaign to draft Newt Gingrich as a U.S. Senate candidate from Virginia to take on Democrat Mark Warner in 2014." You would think he would run from his own home state of Georgia, but let's face it, he has spent the bulk of his adult life in the halls of power in Washington, D.C. or in its shadows (like Northern Virginia) where he has tried to influence government for the various interests he has represented over the years.
Andrew Hemingway, who served as Newt 2012's state director in New Hampshire and national director of digital fundraising, is, according to the organization's statement "leading the effort." According to Hemingway, "We want a credible challenger to Mark Warner, and no one could do what Newt could do to fight -- and win. U.S. Senator Newt Gingrich would be an immediate game changer, giving conservatives another voice that would take the fight to the Obama administration."
The statement from the organization makes it clear this is not merely a statewide agenda. The program to put Gingrich in the U.S. Senate is a "national effort" and "is starting with a petition from thousands of Americans to draft Newt and serve as part of a grassroots effort to support his sought-for candidacy."
The statement goes on, "With his history of support for far-reaching government reforms and fiscal sanity -- for actually balancing the budget -- Newt Gingrich was Tea Party before there was a tea party," argues Dan Backer, Draft Newt's treasurer. "No one can better articulate the values of millions of Virginians seeking an end to government overreach, the repeal of Obamacare and tax relief for hardworking Americans. And, Newt is one of the few potential candidates who can unite tea party conservatives and establishment republicans behind a winning ticket," concluded Backer.
Most Tea Party advocates that were behind Newt for those exciting couple of weeks seemed to be late in doing so, and felt as though they had few other options. It is certainly difficult to make the case that he is an "outsider" (a prerequisite for most challengers among the Tea Party crowd). Furthermore, he has his work cut out for him in Virginia.
The current senator, "Mark Warner was elected by a huge margin in 2008 and it looks like he will be again in 2014," says Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling.
As for Gingrich, public opinion may not be on his side. A CNN survey last February found that 63 percent of Americans viewed Gingrich unfavorably. Gingrich's people could easily say "that's fine," since he is running for U.S. Senate in Virginia and not national office. However, those are polarizing numbers and it will be interesting how things will fare for the former Speaker if he decides to run for the U.S. Senate.
Kevin Price is publisher and editor in chief of US Daily Review and Host of the Price of Business on 1110 AM KTEK in Houston, Texas. He is the author of Empowerment to the People and has twice received the George Washington Honor Medal in Communications from the Freedom Foundation at Valley Forge. His column is nationally syndicated and he is a frequent guest on major media around the country, being found on Fox News, Fox Business, and other networks. For more see KevinPriceCentral.com.